Spain will contain its third general election in four years on Sunday 28 April

What’s happening and how did we get here?

On Sunday 28 April, Spain will harbour its third general election in four years. The ballot was called by the country’s “ministers “, Pedro Sanchez, after rightwing parties and separatist Catalan parties scorned his 2019 plan in February.

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ party( PSOE) took office in June 2018 after applying a successful motion of no-confidence to oust the corruption-mired People’s party( PP) authority of Mariano Rajoy.

But Sanchez’s minority government, which has held only 84 of the 350 fannies in the Spanish congress of deputies following the last general election in 2016, has faced an uphill battle.

Critics accuse Sanchez of taking too soft an approach to the vexed question of Catalan independence and being too beholden to the parties that have contributed to him fix power.

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Number of benches per region
Distribution of sets by party, 2016 election
    PP
    PSOE
    Podemos and alliances
    Citizens
    ERC-CATSI
    CDC
    EAJ-PNV
    EH Bildu
    CCa-PNC

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What is the current political landscape?

Spanish politics has grown increasingly fragmented over the past few years.

The eruption of the anti-austerity Podemos( We Can) and the centre-right Citizens party- which terminated decades of PP-PSOE hegemony- has been followed by the arrivalof the far-right Vox party.

Vox, which broke through in last-place December’s Andalucian regional polls, gazes set to become the first avowedly far-right party to win more than a single seat in congress since Franco died in 1975. In short, a system long dominated by two main parties now sees itself with five.

What are the big-hearted issues?

According to the latest survey from Spain’s Centre for Sociological Research( CIS ), people identify the country’s biggest problems as unemployment( 61.8% ), corruption and fraud( 33.3% ), and Spain’s politics, policy makers and parties( 29.1% ).

Anything else?

Although the three rightwing parties talked a lot about migration last-place summer and autumn as record numbers of people arrived in Spain by ocean, the issue was a main worry for exactly 8.9% of those surveyed.

Conversely, the issue of Catalan independence, which appears to trouble just 11% of those polled, has remained one of the dominant political themes of the past few years and will have a strong role in the election.

Rajoy’s government took a tough thread on the Catalan crisis, eventually stepping in and sacking the rebellious government of the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, and acquiring direct see of Catalonia. But it also prescribed fresh regional polls, in which separatist defendants retained their majority.

Many voters are still angry over how Rajoy and the other officers of the political foundation administered the crisis, fuelling the rise of Vox.

Which parties are in the running and what do they give?

The PSOE has, unsurprisingly, struggled to find a solution to the insoluble problem of Catalan independence despite taking a firm, if less pugnacious, approach than Rajoy’s administration. Places of its legislative agenda have been stymied by its lack of MPs, but it has managed to raise the national minimum wage by 22%. Its most eye-catching goal- the exhumation of Franco from his loom basilica outside Madrid– has proved difficult, but the authoritarian is to be reburied in less lavish borders in June.

The PP governed from 2011 until last year, when it was finally undone after a court case laid bare the corruption at its heart. It led to Mariano Rajoy becoming the first suffice PM to testify in a criminal case. He was supplanted as defendant chairman by Pablo Casado, who has dragged the party much further to the right in the hope of seeing off the challenge from Vox. Casado’s campaign has been aggressive but impaired by mistakes: he recently managed to suggest that the PP would lower the national minimum wage. He has promised a far tougher approaching to Catalan independence, spoken of the possibility of a return to more restrictive abortion laws and come out against the PSOE’s moves to introduce a euthanasia rule.

Along with Podemos, the young, centre-right Citizens party achieved a breakthrough in the 2015 election, discontinuing the PSOE and PP duopoly. The party has also changed farther to the right in recent months, and formed the Catalan crisis a key focus. Its tough string on regional sovereignty and thorough defence of Spain’s national unity paid off in the 2017 Catalan regional referendums, in which the party was the single biggest winner. But it was better knew itself unable to form a government in the region, giving separatist parties back in to superpower. Before the no-confidence vote, Citizens was producing the canvas, but has paid affectionately for its decision not to back Sanchez’s successful bid to oust the PP.

The anti-austerity Podemos , digest of thwarting and the indignados change, examined set to leapfrog the PSOE and become the dominant leftwing political force in the 2016 general election. But mixed words, internal squabbles and an alliance with Izquierda Unida( United Left)- a coalition that includes the Communist party- to create Unidas Podemos, symbolized it did far worse than expected. Podemos has helped to shore up the Sanchez government, but internal spats have dampened its content and weakened its image.

Vox , led by the pistol-carrying Santiago Abascal, has further scrapped the Spanish right, and threatens to offer a dwelling to disenchanted PP and Citizens voters. Abascal has talked of a “reconquest” of Spain- a reference to the long campaign against Moorish rule, which concluded in 1492 and likewise led to the expulsion of Spain’s Jews. Vox, which was formed by disgruntled PP members five years ago, has stormed against” supremacist feminism and gender totalitarianism“, and the party has complained that existing domestic violence rules are unfairly weighted against souls. It has also protected bullfighting and hunting and is hoping to attract PP voters in rural areas. Like Podemos and Citizens a few years ago, the party is keen to present itself as a fresh alternative to the status quo. After Monday night’s debate- from which his party was excluded- Abascal tweeted a picture of four similar-looking parrots, captioned:” Spot significant differences .”

Who will win?

Current referendums indicate the PSOE will finish first and increase its seat count- but will fall well short of a majority. It are envisaged to prevail about 29% of the vote, with the PP finishing second with about 20%. The Citizens party is on course to triumph 15% and Unidas-Podemos 13%. Snapping at the heels of the anti-austerity, leftwing bloc is Vox. Having never acquired a seat in congress, the party is on course to take about 10% of the vote.

However, some 40% of voters are still undecided, making all prophecies a lot less certain. A fundamental direction will be the continuing fragmentation of the rightwing vote.

Polls

What happens next?

Sanchez will be hoping the polls are accurate and that the PP, Citizens and Vox will not secure enough sits to build a coalition government. The PSOE could penetrate a supply-and-confidence arrangement with Unidas-Podemos and the Basque Nationalist party- and will be keen to avoid relying on Catalan separatist parties again. The Citizens leader, Albert Rivera, has flatly ruled out a deal with the PSOE, but that could change depending on the results of the election.

It is worth bearing in mind that both the December 2015 and June 2016 general elections resulted in hung parliaments and months of failed horse-trading and brawling. After the latter ballot, Spain was in the sides of Rajoy’s attendtaker government for 10 months.

If a brand-new government is not formed, another general election will be held.

Political displacements since the 2016 general election

parliament displacements

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